53 King Cobras In Car Seized In Vietnam: Why Did The Driver Have The Venomous Snakes?

By Staff Reporter on April 22, 2013 2:09 PM EDT

King Cobra
53 king cobras were found in a car by Vietnam police during a traffic stop. (Photo: Creative Commons)

53 king cobras in a car were discovered in Vietnam on Friday, when Vietnamese authorities pulled over a Hanoi driver and discovered green sacks filled with the venomous snakes.

According to Officer Dang Van Hanh, the snakes were promptly seized and delivered to a wildlife rescue center near the Vietnam capital. The snakes were treated before they were returned to the wild.

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Interrogating the driver, authorities learned that the snakes were meant to be illegally transported for black market trading. The driver was offered $50 to make the trip. While the sum may sound small, a quick $50 in Vietnam is an attractive offer for the poor.

Snake poaching is illegal in Vietnam. While its skin is likely used to create leather goods including belts, shoes, and clothes, king cobra meat is considered a delicacy in southern Asia as well. In addition, whole king cobra snakes are sometimes preserved to produce traditional Chinese medicine or snake wine.

According to Chinese site cn939.com, snake medicine is believed to possess properties that cure farsightedness and hair loss. What's more, Asia values preserved snake as an aphrodisiac as well.

Snake wine is produced by infusing whole snakes in rice wine or grain alcohol. Thanks to the properties of ethanol, snake venom is also denatured in the wine. Promoted as a drink that offers vitality and health to the drinker, ancient scrolls indicate snake wine has existed as early as the Western Zhou dynasty, 771 B.C.

The King cobra snake is one of the most well-known and one of the most venomous snakes in the world. Growing as long as 18-feet in length, the King Cobra is also the longest venomous snake.

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